Breeze up in Weymouth
Racing stepped up a gear on the third day of the Sail for Gold Regatta, with sailors revelling in big breeze, strong gusts and spells of sunshine at this third leg of the EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup series.
Wind speeds of 15-20 knots which built to 25 knots across Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour made for exciting racing for the eight Olympic and two Paralympic classes.
RS:X Windsurfing World Champion Nick Dempsey relished the strong winds Portland Harbour had to offer in today’s morning session, with a commanding three race wins to keep him at the top of the leaderboard.
“It was a really nice day today and pretty windy so I am really pleased with my performance. I seem to be going quite quick and everything seems quite simple when you’re going fast. We had a different direction of wind today which made it a little tricky but it was good fun!
“The whole week has been good, the first day we had some really light winds which just makes the racing hard and physically difficult so the racing was a lot closer and much more of a challenge for myself and the rest of the fleet. But with the wind picking up it has made it a lot more enjoyable – I prefer days like today as they are more fun but I would like to think of one of my strengths as being good in a mix of conditions.”
“Everyone wants to do well and we all want to challenge ourselves and we want to race as hard as we can and get the most out of it. It’s tough racing, the GBR guys are getting faster and better which is great for me, great for them and as a squad we are getting better and better!”
With mini-medal style races taking place across the five days of competition, the Olympic silver and bronze medallist was quick to give praise to the Race Management teams being used at this year’s Sail for Gold.
“The Race Management has been bang on this week! They seem to listen to us if we have a bit of input and they just seem to be all over it this week.
“The racing is fantastic. I suppose that is part of what the Olympic Games left us with – great Race Management and a great event.”
In the RS:X 8.5 class runaway leader Bryony Shaw added a further three race wins to her impressive scoreline while Spain’s Blanca Manchon posted a third and two seconds to leave her 10 points behind in second. Izzy Hamilton is third.
“It was a really good day today with good conditions and three great races,” expressed Manchon.
“The final two races were beautiful, the sun was shining and we had nice breeze. I don’t have a favourite condition but for me it’s better to train in a mixture of conditions and planing conditions as its good preparation for the Europeans and World Championships.”
“Bryony is really strong in this regatta and is sailing very well. It’s good for me to train and race against Bryony. I have come to the Sail for Gold Regatta for some good training and just to have fun and if I finish on the podium it will be great.”
A race win, a fourth and a second have kept Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz in the lead in the 49erFX event.
The Dutch sailors have only finished out of the top three once and in a range of conditions have demonstrated there versatility. On there week so far Bekkering said: “We are really happy with our performance across the three days so far. It is always nice to lead the fleet and I think we have had good scores with mainly top threes so it’s good that we have been able to keep consistent.
Duetz added: “We had another good day again – there was more breeze today which made it really fun with more action on the course. We like the big breeze, it was a hard day with a lot of shifts as well which makes it very exciting in the boat handling and with all the manoeuvres.”
Kate Macgregor and Katrina Best enjoyed the breeze at this halfway stage of the regatta with a 2-1-5 to keep them in second position.
“It was tricky for sure out there today,” said Macgregor. “It was very shifty and there were some big rain clouds coming through mixing it all up so it was definitely hard to read what was going to happen but it was good fun, especially in the last race when the breeze really picked up and it got a bit more extreme.
Trailing the Dutch duo by four points with only two days left of racing to go, 2012 Olympian Macgregor added: “I raced against Annemiek [Bekkering] when I was Match Racing so I know she is a very good sailor and she has been doing very well in the FX this year as well as last year. We knew they would provide us with strong competition this week so it’s great to have them over here at Sail for Gold.”
Dave Evans and Ed Powys have extended their lead in the 49er event with an impressive two seconds and first. The British Sailing Team pair have a healthy 12 point cushion over Nic Asher and Fynn Sterritt, with Powys pleased with their progress on day three.
“We were in quite good positions in all three of the races today so it was a bit of a shame not to get more than the one bullet, but we are going fast so are pretty happy!”
“We are trying out some new equipment this week and it seems to be working out quite nicely so hopefully we will get a good range across the next couple of days and continue to put it through its paces.”
Stevie Morrison and Chris Grube lie third after the ten race series, while Japan’s Yukio Makino and Kenji Takahashi, who have notched the most race wins this week, including a win in today’s second race, occupy fourth.
Lucy Macgregor and Andrew Walsh made the most of Wednesday’s early afternoon gusts in the mixed multihull event. Two race wins, a second and a fourth have kept the duo at the top of the Nacra 17 leaderboard whilst British Team mates Pippa Wilson and John Gimson revelled in north westerly breeze clinching two bullets and two seconds to close the gap at the top of the table to only one point. Nacra 17 World silver medallists Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond sit ten points off the top spot in third.
Giles Scott has increased his lead at the top of the Finn fleet with another impressive performance. Three races win and a third, in spite of a capsize today, has seen the Finn European champion extend his lead to nine points over Mark Andrews in second. Andrew Mills picked up his first race win of the regatta and is poised in third.
The two Paralympic classes were the only classes to miss out on their full schedule of races today with the 2.4mR and Sonar completing two out of their planned four races each due to the building breeze.
The battle of the Brits continues in the 2.4mR Paralympic class with Helena Lucas and Megan Pascoe almost neck and neck as the regatta reaches the half way stage. Pascoe has moved up into second overall, only one point behind the Paralympic Champion after a clean sweep of race wins today. Lucas finished today’s opening race in second, but was unable to compete in the final race of the day with her 2.4mR keelboat among a number to be swamped in the blustery conditions.
John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Stephen Thomas continue their superb run of form in the Sonar class, with two more race wins to extend their lead to 12 points at the top of the leaderboard.
Luke Patience and Elliot Willis consolidated their top spot in the combined 470 fleet with a clean sweep of race wins from the three of four races they completed. Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre, who celebrated her 20th birthday today, suffered a snapped spinnaker halyard in the opening race of the day. But the European bronze medallist pairing went on to post two thirds and a race win to sit in second, ten points ahead of Tom Kinver and Hugh Brayshaw who have moved into third with four second places from today’s racing.
Racing is scheduled to start at 10.30am tomorrow (Thursday 4 June) with a 12-15 knot forecast in store.